by Drew Hanson
An unneeded powerline that would mar a vast scenic area is
planned for southwest Wisconsin. Known as the Cardinal-Hickory
Creek high-voltage transmission line, it would connect Middleton with Iowa by
way of a 100+ mile string of 150-foot tall towers.
According to National Park Service geologist, Robert Rose, “The
driftless area of Wisconsin is world famous because it is an unglaciated area
of considerable size … lying far within extensively glaciated territory.” The
Cardinal-Hickory Creek powerline would slice through the Driftless Area, from
one end to the other.
One of the organizations opposing construction of the powerline is Driftless Defenders. According to their website, the powerline would cost
ratepayers in excess of $500 million.
Native Americans called them Mu-cha-wa-ku-nin or Smokey Mountains.
Today we call them Blue Mounds. Wisconsin’s first scientist, Increase Lapham,
wrote that Blue Mounds, “were very important landmarks to guide the traveler in
his course through the boundless prairies.” This includes 10,000 years of pedestrian
use on the Ancient Trail that existed between the mouth of the Wisconsin River
and mouth of the Milwaukee River.
Why deface views of such an historic and scenic feature?
Black Earth Valley
The proposed powerline would also degrade views of Black
Earth Valley which is home to Black Earth Creek. The creek is a class 1 trout
stream that is recognized as a premier trout destination and regionally
significant resource. It has benefited from intensive habitat improvements.
According to the DNR’s website, “The history here is deep, multi-layered and
Along the south rim of Black Earth Valley, at a future unit
of the National Park System, are prairie and oak savanna remnants. Along the opposite
valley rim are also prairie and oak savanna remnants on privately-owned land.
Volunteers have worked for decades to restore these rare native plant
communities. Standing among large old oak trees, the views from valley rim to
valley rim are outstanding. The view would be junked by the huge Cardinal-Hickory
The future of energy is in conservation and local renewables.
According to a recent report by the Wisconsin Public Service
Commission, slow growth in electricity use is anticipated, with peak demand
expected to increase just 0.5 percent a year through 2024. Such a small increase
in demand can be met through energy conservation measures and modest investments
in local renewables such as solar.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s
website, the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from
nonhydropower renewables is expected to increase by almost a full percentage
point each of the next two years.
Dane County is leading the way. A massive solar energy site is
planned for the Dane County Regional Airport. It would be the largest solar
energy project in south-central Wisconsin and the second largest in Wisconsin. Coupled
with other conservation and local renewables projects, it means we don’t need to
spend $500+ million for a new huge powerline to bring power from elsewhere.
So enough with the Cardinal-Hickory Creek powerline
idea. It is not needed and would deface treasured natural resources.